AAAI celebrates the lives of AAAI Fellows who have recently passed away.
Douglas B. Lenat
August 31, 2023
It is with great sadness that I am informing you of the loss of Douglas B. Lenat, who passed away on August 31, 2023.
Doug’s entire career has been centered on a clear vision: to build machines that could reason with common sense knowledge. Its most well know project, Cyc, started when Doug joined the MCC (Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation) research center in Austin, Texas in 1984. Cyc built a huge common sense knowledge base, in the attempt to represent and reason with this kind of knowledge, like a human being would do. Given the state of AI at the time, this was a visionary and ground-breaking project, that after almost 40 years has still many lessons to teach, and insight to give, to all AI researchers. For his work on Cyc, Doug was named a AAAI Fellow in 1990.
I met Doug at MCC, where I spent two years in 1987-88. I was working in a different project, but Doug was so inspiring and visionary, and an amazingly great speaker, that he could not be missed. Since then, I always admired his vision and his passion for transforming that vision in a reality. He tried to build machines with a general form of intelligence, at a time when AI science and technology was providing much less than the current one.
I will deeply miss his enthusiasm, his energy, and his vision. I hope the whole AI community can leverage what he did, to build AI systems that can learn and reason by exploiting both data and knowledge.
The AAAI community sends deepest condolences to his family, friends, and all who knew him. He will be greatly missed.
June 13, 2023
The whole AAAI community is deeply saddened and mourns the loss of Professor Eugene Charniak, who passed away on June 13, 2023. Eugene was University Professor Emeritus of Computer Science and Cognitive Science at Brown University as well as a pioneer in the field of natural language processing. Eugene joined the department in 1978, served as Department Chair from 1991 to 1997, was recognized with an endowed professorship in 2006, and retired last year.
He was recognized as a AAAI Fellow in 1990. A major phase of Eugene’s career came with his embrace of the concept of continuous representation, resulting in his publication of the book Introduction to Deep Learning in 2018. He believed that the continuous model was fundamental to better understand how the brain works and to improve the development of a theory of mind.
Our community feels this loss deeply and sends the most heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and all who knew him. He will be greatly missed. Eugene will be remembered at the next AAAI conference.
April 14, 2023
The whole AAAI community is deeply saddened and mourns the loss of Professor Yorick Wilks, who passed away on April 14, 2023. Yorick was Emeritus Professor at the Department of Computer Science of the University of Sheffield, and a member of the Natural Language Processing Research Group. He was also a Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) and a Senior Research Scientist at the Florida Institute of Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC).
He was recognized as an AAAI Fellow in 1991. Our community feels this loss deeply and sends the most heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and all who knew him. He was an early pioneer in meaning-based approaches to the understanding of natural language content by computers. He will be greatly missed. Yorick will be remembered at the next Fellows Meeting.
March 29, 2023
The whole AAAI community is deeply saddened and mourns the loss of Professor Dragomir Radev, who passed away on March 29, 2023. He was recognized as an AAAI Fellow in 2020 for significant contributions to natural language processing and computational linguistics, and development of widely used techniques in text summarization, question answering, and education.
Drago was the A. Bartlett Giamatti Professor of Computer Science at Yale University. He joined Yale in 2017 after spending 16 years at the University of Michigan as a professor in computer science. He surged into the NLP field with seminal research on multi-document text summarization, the topic of his PhD dissertation in 1999. His later work has been equally influential, from his widely cited paper on LexRank to his most recent papers providing datasets, benchmarks and evaluation of metrics for summarization. Along the way, he touched on summarization of a wide range of genres including news, dialog, scientific articles, and citation surveys. His research was wide-ranging, touching on many areas beyond summarization. He worked on graph-based methods for NLP, question answering, interfaces to databases, and language generation.
Drago was an exceptional individual who embodied the qualities of kindness, generosity, intelligence, passion, and dedication in every aspect of his life. He co-founded and co-organized NACLO (North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad), an exam of linguistic brainteasers for high school students, traveling each year with the top-ranking contestants to the international event. He was responsible for attracting students of all levels into our field and was committed to training the next generation of computational linguists. He will be greatly missed. Drago will be remembered at the next Fellows Meeting.
He is survived by his wife, Axinia, and two daughters, Laura and Victoria. Victoria has a disability and requires extensive care. A small group of faculty and researchers from Columbia University, Yale University, and the University of Michigan have joined forces to raise money so that Axinia and her family can continue to provide Victoria with the care she needs. Donations can be made via https://gofund.me/4041dfd0
January 29, 2023
The whole AAAI community is deeply saddened and mourns the loss of Dr. Roger Schank, who passed away on January 29, 2023. Roger pioneered conceptual dependency theory (within the context of natural language understanding) and case-based reasoning, both of which challenged cognitivist views of memory and reasoning.
He was recognized as an AAAI Fellow in 1990. Our community feels this loss deeply and sends the most heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and all who knew him. One of the world’s leading Artificial Intelligence researchers, Roger was the author of more than 125 articles and publications. He will be greatly missed. Roger will be remembered at the next Fellows Meeting.
September 22, 2023
The whole AAAI community is deeply saddened and mourns the loss of Professor Fahiem Bacchus, who passed away on September 22, 2022. Fahiem was a brilliant computer scientist, who made a profound impact on AI, and a very kind human being. Personally, I will always remember his smile and his ability to communicate deep research results simply, so they could be appreciated by all AI researchers and possibly lead to cross-discipline impact.
He was recognized as an AAAI Fellow in 2006. Our community feels this loss deeply and sends the most heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and all who knew him. He will be greatly missed, as a pioneering and impactful researcher and, more importantly, as a great human being.